On my 40th birthday my late husband Jim flew our son Christian, my baby brother Robert and me to Europe for three weeks. We flew first class as a thank you from the airlines for a favor Jim had done for them. We were served Chateaubriand with Bearnaise sauce, Dom Perignon, and Godiva chocolates for dessert.
We first flew into Heathrow, somehow got to Wales, how I can't recall and spent our first week in pouring rain with weak coffee and scarce produce. At the end of the week we couldn't wait to head to France.
We stayed a few nights in Paris and then rented a car to drive down to Provence, staying in travel guru Rick Steve's recommended spots. Rick's advise saved our trip.
The drive from Paris to Provence was traumatic with French motorists topping 90 miles an hour and bent on getting around anyone in front of them. We stayed at some lovely little b and b's having morning cafe' au lait, orange juice, and croissant. My hair dryer broke early on so I was under a baseball cap much of the time.
Our favorite village was Beynac, a town nestled into the mountain side with beautiful, gold'ish colored stone. We loved the Loire Valley and the Dordogna, two of the most picturesque areas of France.
We had cassoule in Castelnac, picnicked in Arles and Aix, and generally ate our way across the amazing French countryside stopping at the "cavs" for wine tasting and local grocery stores in search of the perfect cheese.
When Jim was alive, he, Christian, and I traveled together a great deal: Europe, Japan, Australia, Fiji and extensively throughout the United States.
I don't travel much now. Maybe later after my fiance David retires and my business allows me to get away. Maybe we'll plan a trip to Spain, Italy, and Greece. Right now traveling is a difficult reminder of what Christian and I have lost.
For now I will travel via memories and photo albums, remembering in detail the food and scenery of the places Jim and I have been together. And later, I'll make new travel memories with my David.